I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Legion

tn_legionI thought DAYBREAKERS was much better than the dumb B-movie I expected, but if I needed one of those in my diet it’s a good thing LEGION also came out on DVD this week. It’s a cheesy but sort of interesting movie about a group of stock characters trapped at one of those old timey diners that if you’re a character in a movie you will drive out into the middle of nowhere and happen to be at when some shit goes down. In this case it happens to be ground zero in God’s plan to wipe out humanity because, according to the narrator, “He got tired of all the bullshit.”

mp_legionAin’t that a bitch? Diners full of people like this have faced down giant worms, killer trucks, body-switching Jason, etc., but there aren’t too many monster movie foes as rough as the big guy in the sky. And in this case He’s a mysterious unseen God, not Morgan Freeman or somebody. In my opinion God’s shit list is a good one to avoid having your name on.

Luckily for humanity they’ve got a powerful ally in the angel Michael (Paul Bettany, taking over John Travolta’s beloved cinematic creation) who thinks God is being a Dick and has refused his order to kill the unborn baby that for reasons I didn’t understand is prophesized to grow up and save humanity in a John Connor type of fashion. Michael pulls up in a stolen cop car loaded with guns and arms the diner patrons to the teeth so they can gun down and blow up the approaching angelically possessed monsters. Some of them get out and get filled with bullets, mostly they just drive up and their cars explode. In my opinion there is a possibility that the creative minds behind this motion picture have played some video games at some point in their lives.

I won’t give away how this all kicks off, it’s a pretty good over-the-top scene that was given away in the trailer, but maybe some of you didn’t see that. There are some pretty cool (but completely cartoony) digital monster effects in some scenes. It’s all very computery, especially the swarm of locusts that appears and disappears mainly just so Tyrese can say, “You expect me to explain the behavior of a pestilence?”

I’m not sure if it’s actually trying to be scary. Their strategy isn’t to turn everyday harmless things into monsters, but outdated movie things that most people have never seen in real life. For example a 1950s style ice cream man with a little hat and everything CGI stretches into an evil-appearing-but-actually-servant-of-God-spider-man-monster. I hope these filmatists didn’t think they were being subversive by showing the dark side of an outdated style of ice cream man. But I’m thankful they didn’t choose clown.

The protagonists include Dennis Quaid (JAWS 3) as the owner; Lucas Black (TOKYO DRIFT) as his son, a mechanic; Tyrese (2 FAST 2 FURIOUS) as the typical Tyrese good-hearted criminal and Charles S. Dutton as the classic Charles S. Dutton righteous Bible-toter. Also you got the pregnant waitress and a bickering couple and their sullen teen daughter. And I don’t mean to give anything away but they may or may not all manage to work through their issues, improve their relationships and come to an understanding about their pasts and their purposes in life and what not.

So the characters are pretty one-dimensional and by the numbers, and some of the action is pretty dark and muddy. The angel Gabriel, who tries to be God’s pet (you know how Gabriel is) fights Michael (I wonder if he’d get mad if I just call him Mike?) with some kind of holy buzz saw and some wing-chops, which is pretty good. But other than that I don’t remember any battles that were very exciting.

godStill, I gotta give this one a marginal passing grade for the sheer ballsiness of the idea. It definitely stands out from the pack. Mike is basically a conscientious objector against God. He has been taught to love by God and is not about to switch over to hate. But Gabriel is just a blind follower, a toadie, a yes-man. At first glance it seems like these crazies got away with making a movie where God is the bad guy. So I guess to some people it might be a cop out that it ends up being a little more thoughtful and nuanced than that. I think it’s still enough to offend many people (it does depict God sending monsters to kill people) but it ends up a good message about really understanding and believing in something (your religion, country, whatever) instead of just stupidly following orders. Michael is a good soldier, just not a good German.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 at 12:29 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

56 Responses to “Legion”

  1. Dennis Quaid picked some odd movies lately, don’t you think? I mean, his last four movies were “Horsemen”, “G.I. Joe”, “Pandorum” and this one. It’s like he wants to make weird movies, withoug losing the potential of having success at the Box Office.

  2. The “Tired of all the Bullshit” pic there would make a great t-shirt. I like the babies head foot rest …..very Omnipotent.

    Cheers

  3. But isn’t all that simply an excuse to have guys with wings: “angels” because we’re told, not because of anything in the writing of his character/motivation – supposedly “angels” fighting with guns would be considered very subversive by the chuckleheads who filmatized this thing.

    “God as a bad guy” is the *oldest* trick in the book: from Baal to the Ancient Testament, god was always a shit: jealous, demanding, wrathful – the very picture of a tyrant. (who, incidentally, can always count on his subjects not knowing the finer points of the Law so he can put them to death on any technicality whatsoever. Bonus points for having the Law written and preached in a language no one but the very few can speak – Mel Gibson and his thuggish father can tell you all about that)

    As Vern points out, this thing is like a video game. Like this video game from 1999, which had at least the decency to include “classic” angelic powers like turning people into salt:

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/requiem-avenging-angel

  4. Jesus Christ
    John Connor
    James Cameron

    Coincidence? or Christincidents?

  5. But in the Old Testament you’re supposed to side with God’s wrath. You’re not supposed to side with the kid from TOKYO DRIFT fighting against God. That’s a new one as far as I have seen.

  6. Wasn’t Paul Bettany playing Darwin in his last starring role? (Last non-iron man “just your voice is in this movie, sorry” starring role anyway)
    I like to think this is the same character who has used the power of evolution to grow wings and fight back against God.

  7. Is the poster made to purposely make unaware people think it’s daniel craig that’s starring in the film? or is it just med feeling it really looks like james bond with wings..

  8. Darth Irritable

    May 12th, 2010 at 3:55 am

    Ah Vern – that’s because the edition you’ve read is missing the rarely reprinted Book Of Diesel. Mostly it’s full of mindless platitudes about living life a quarter mile at a time, but there’s a few nuggets about honoring thy colleagues from Tokyo Drift and 2 Fast 2 Sexually Questionable. Also something about keeping what you kill.

    As with many Dieselogical articles, it doesn’t make a huge a amount of sense.

  9. It’s sillyness like LEGION why I appreciate movies like DAYBREAKERS more and more.

  10. I didn’t like this one that much, it was like a shorter (and lesser) version of the show Supernatural (It’s a pretty cool series if you can get past some cluncy episodes in the first season and the male model looks and inital blandness of a few actors). Here blue collar monster hunters end up in the middle of the Apocalypse, where the fanatic angels and even God show that they don’t give a shit about humanity, as long as they get to finally fight the Final Battle with Lucier. They possess people fuck up the earth, manipulate us, go into politics, massacre whole towns and whatnot. So all we have going for us is a few guys wearing flannel shirts riding around in a shitty impala, listening to Metallica tapes with a truck full of guns while the world slowly burns to ashes. Angels are dicks, God is a “deadbeat dad” Heaven is a fake ass Matrix type prison. I’m glad only a few people watch it, otherwise there would be a huge outrage.

  11. Gwai Lo –

    John MacClane (the emphasis on the “Clane” there).
    James Crockett (from Miami Vice).
    Johnny Cash.
    Jarvis Cocker.

    One of these is not like the others…

  12. I’d never seen Tokyo Drift, so when I watched Legion, I just kept thinking, “Man, the way that guy pouts and sulks, he really looks like the kid from Sling Blade.” Then I looked it up and, damned if that wasn’t the kid from Sling Blade!

    So now when I think of this movie, I God as Dwight Yoakam, slumped in his lay-z-throne drinking beer.

  13. *I PICTURE God as Dwight Yoakam. I not God/Dwight Yoakam.

  14. Jareth Cutestory

    May 12th, 2010 at 7:09 am

    “You expect me to explain the behavior of a pestilence?”

    I wish Tyrese had made that remark on the press junket for TRANSFORMERS.

  15. Clunky, horrible dialogue, middling action, but damn if I didn’t like this as well. If you truly start to consider all of the story implications and ramifications, it kind of becomes like a time travel film, you can burn your neurons up over this. So basically, Michael defies God’s will, but is then reincarnated when killed (resurrected, maybe). If I track this logic, then basically if you are taught one thing (love, forgiveness, tolerance) and you believe it with all your heart, then you can go against what is preached or perceived as God’s will and you will still be given a free pass to heaven. This would definitely offend most organized religion, I think, who preach that is a sin to question God or defy him. Kind of flies in the face of the fact that God is omniscient and omnipotent.

    PS, for all interested – /film is report that Universal Soldier IV is going forth in 3d with JCVD and Lundgren expected to reprise their roles and John Hyams negotiating to return as the director.

  16. Man Vern really doesn’t have that much hate in his body. Most of the reviews for this film completely skewer it. Scott Foy even had a hilarious audio review where he talks about how shitty the film is.

  17. What’s the point of doing a direct to dvd movie in 3D?

  18. John Cusack….
    Jennifer Connelly…
    Both starred in End-of-the-World movies…
    Definitely Christincidence.

  19. I didn’t like Legion , and now that I’ve seen both I just can’t understand why this had a theatrical release and the last Universal Soldier was DTV . That was some strange bullshit , man .

    I’m glad they’re at least talking about making a sequel with the same team.

  20. HOLY SHIT! Breaking News: John Hyams to come back and direct Universal Soldier IV, in 3d, with Van Damme and Lundgren, this Fall!

  21. Ahh, you beat me to it, oh well, its kinda awesome anyway.

  22. You really can’t have God be an active participant in the events of your story and have it come out decent. Stephen King and Ron Moore were semi-successful in incorporating God in the Stand and Battlestar, and Ennis turned God into a great villian in Preacher. I can’t really think of other works that put God into the main events and didn’t create plot holes and mistakes.

  23. Also, can we stop referring to Lucas Black as “that guy from Tokyo Drift”? I fucking HATED that movie, dammit. It somehow managed to make the original “Fast and the Furious”‘s racing-in-a-straight-line look refreshing and not-boring-at-all. Seriously, there’s gotta be something better that Lucas Black has been in. Why not refer to him as (quickly consults IMDB) the kid from “Sling Blade” or the kid from “Jarhead”, two movies that are actually pretty good?

  24. I haven’t seen TOKYO DRIFT, Lucas Black will always be that kid from AMERICAN GOTHIC to me.

  25. “You know, I’m a member of the Royal Shakespeare Society, but THIS is why I got into acting”-Paul Bettany on LEGION.

  26. Paul – because you’re wrong about TOKYO DRIFT. Everybody I know likes that movie, including people who have no interest in any of the other Fast and Furious works. And even if you hated the movie how could you hate Lucas Black in it? He’s a completely successful unorthodox casting decision.

    Also it’s fun to write TOKYO DRIFT.

  27. Paul Bettany made WIMBLEDON watchable (… once. While doing laundry. And answering some mail). That’s some acting chops right there.

    On a serious note, his Doctor Stephen Maturin is terrific in a movie already stacked to the tits with superlative casting.

  28. I knew the filmmakers didn’t had the balls to make an out-and-out dystheistic movie. So, the fault is the over-enthusiastic second-in-command who didn’t got the right memo? God is still a nice chap, it’s all a misunderstanding. Balls, i say! When will people ever get the balls to make a full dystheistic movie? Michael Tolkien’s THE RAPTURE almost got there.

    As an atheist, i’m kinda disapointed. Still, there’s something about this movie that reeks offensive, even if i don’t believe in the religion.

  29. OH GOD is the only movie with God in it that counts, other than the passion, but that was too violent for me.

    and this seems to be old testament God, who in the Torah wrestled with Moses till Mo said uncle. “wrestling with God” is hardly a new concept, Jack Kirby intended galactus to be God, and the fantastic four basically argue humanity’s deal.

    but this movie looked like a complete piece of shite.

  30. asimov, as a Christian, this movie just seems too stupid give a shit about.
    its like being offended at teletubbies.

  31. actually it was Jacob who wrestled with the big G.

  32. Or is it the Big J? (Jehovah) Or is it the Big Y? (Yawveh). Damn, that’s the deal with God, anyway? Can’t he just suck on a name and be done with it? Pretentious slacker!

  33. Let’s all hope Sam Mendes’ Preacher movie kicks ass. There’s a great “God is a dick” story.

  34. anthony – They’ll castrate it before it comes to the big screen. I mean look what WB did to HELLBLAZER.

  35. i’m not gonna watch this movie

  36. Vern – the trouble is that I liked the second one (the one with Paul Walker and Tyrese). I just hated #1 and #3. Can’t give any reasons particularly, I only saw either of them once (obviously, I’m not going to watch them again). I just remember the kind of films that you watch once then wish you hadn’t. As far as I can recall, Lucas Black played a really annoying kid who kept challenging people to races despite the fact that he couldn’t drive. Also Ra’s Al Ghul turned up in the end. That’s pretty much all I can remember. Sorry, but they made zero impression on me.

    As for God as an antagonist, I don’t have any ethical problems with it, but I have a few practical ones. Where divine beings are the antagonists in films, they generally have to be ridiculously underpowered in order to give the heroes a fighting chance, with just seems to defeat the whole purpose and make things slightly ridiculous. I remember a little-known film with Rufus Sewell called “Bless the Child” which suffered from pretty much the same problem, as did the Keanu Reeves / Al Pacino vehicle “Devil’s Advocate”.

  37. Are they still making that PREACHER movie? It keeps going away and then coming back, so I figured by now that it was one of those things that will never actually get made. That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. PREACHER is probably my favorite comic and I’m about 150% sure that there’s no way to get it right in movie form. Hollywood, please, do me a favor and just let it be and do something useful with your time, like remaking THE BURNING or something.

  38. Paul, I think you just confused Ken Watanabe with the great Sonny Chiba. This is unacceptable. Glad you liked 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, though.

  39. Majestyk, I think I read that Mendes had moved onto something else and that the PREACHER project is in the water… not dead, just… lying there, all still. Could be worse. After seeing that KILLER INSIDE ME trailer, I got to thinking that Casey Affleck would be a good Jesse. But I could live with it never getting made.

  40. Casey Affleck, huh? That’s actually not a bad call, although I would prefer an actual Texan.

  41. Preacher is untouchable, but there’s a great movie to be had in The Good Old Boys with Jody and T.C.

  42. Jareth Cutestory

    May 12th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    The “out-and-out dystheistic movie” that I want to see is Abe Vigoda vs. Keith Richards in the final battle to see who will possess the Quickening once and for all.

  43. The problem they’d run into is the same problem that SIN CITY encountered, where stuff that comes across as hardcore and creepy and weird on the page would look cartoony and juvenile on the screen.

  44. Oh. My. God.

    That and I couldn’t remember who Frank Booth was… I must flagellate myself now.

    Excuse me one moment.

  45. This seems pretty similar in concept to the Prophecy movies, except that the humans are on the side of the pro-God angel?

    In terms of movies where God is straight up the bad guy, what about the Seventh Sign with Demi Less (before surgery made her Moore)? Or any other movie where the Armageddon (Biblical version, not asteroid version) is happening and somebody prevents it?

    The Golden Compass was supposed to be about a war against the Church and against God Himself, until they realised they were making the movie in America…

  46. Anaru- Actually, most of that anti-God bent was limited towards the second and third books, especially the third. The movie actually follows the Gnostic bent of the book very closely.

  47. asimov [if that is your real name, see what I did thur?],
    What does the difference of names matter?
    a Rose by any other name, dude.
    humans, man, homo sapiens. earth, terra, the planet.
    God, nature, the universe.

  48. I kind of liked Legion overall but I hated the use of the voice-over at the end, which just repeated what was
    said in the voice-over at the beginning. Also, did anybody else think this was strange – the angelic/demonic haords all
    want to kill the waitress and her unborn child, yet once it is born, they are all suddenly reverential and in awe
    of the baby and won’t dare come near it? So the Golden Child (whatever) doesn’t officially exist until it’s been born? Is God not pro-life then?

  49. “Dystheism is the belief that God does exist but is not wholly good, or that he might even be evil.”

    As such, i’m yet to see a movie that is really dystheistic, with the possible single exception of Michael Tolkien’s THE RAPTURE.
    If you ask me, the world needs some more real dystheistic movies, or at least some which doesn’t kiss God’s ass.
    Well, i would be kinda content with that, since it seems nobody who is making movies today has the balls to make a truly atheistic movie.
    Today filmmakers think it’s so profound and shit to have faith and all that, and wave that flag all over the place, it’s instant profoundity, just add water.

  50. Since all those zombie/demons can drive, why the fuck didn’t one of them drive their car through the wall of that rickety diner and end the whole thing?

  51. Too bad about those GOLDEN COMPASS movies. I’d have given anything to see how they’d handle the final confrontation with SPOILER SPOILER the senile, patheticly frail old god living inside a glass box. SPOILER END. The books were brimming with imaginative craziness, but could probably be made a lot cheaper mostly than the first one was… maybe someone will take that challenge?

  52. Subtlety – Maybe now that the Hollywood versions been canned somebody like the BBC can have a go. The fx would be crappier but they would definitely keep the God stuff.

  53. Anaru- I’d actually love that to happen. The books actually have a kind of British feel to me, and since the second one at least takes place to a large degree in the “real” world they could do it on-location without so much costumey, effects-y hooplah. The final book would need some cash to do right, though. Still, I much prefer the BBC Narnias to the Disney ones, and suspect that they might be able to come up with a HIS DARK MATERIALS series that has a little more focus on heart and narrative (not that the first COMPASS was a disaster in that regard, but it gets a little overwhelmed with art direction and effects). Surely they could put together enough cash to get something which merely suggested the effects well enough and could focus on the story. Probably could even get most of the cast back in their limited roles.

  54. Mikey_Likes_It

    May 15th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I really liked this movie. But I have an affinity for the “doomsday / God hates us all” type of movies so my opinion is a tad biased.

  55. Mikey_Likes_It

    May 15th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Maybe a Battle Pope movie will be made someday!

  56. time of the year is right for…

    cutting away diseased, damaged or dead branches. although any time of year is fine for pruning dead wood, many gardeners prefer to do it in the winter, when there aren’t as many leaves blocking your view of what should be cut…

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